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Engineering professor to share $1.3 million National Science Foundation grant

Oyekunle Olukotun, professor of electrical engineering and computer science and director of the Pervasive Parallelism Laboratory, has received a $1.3 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). He will share the research grant with Srinivas Aluru, professor of computer engineering at Iowa State University, and Wu-chen Feng, associate professor of computer science and electrical and computer engineering at Virginia Tech.

The project may lead to promising advances in the fields of genomics and metagenomics. Olukotun, Aluru and Feng hope to “develop core techniques and software libraries to enable scalable, efficient, high performance computing solutions” for next-generation DNA sequencing. According to the proposal abstract, these software libraries will be released as open source and the project will allow training of postdoctoral and graduate students in “big data analytics and computer science-driven interdisciplinary research.”

The research project, titled “Genomes Galore – Core Techniques, Libraries, and Domain Specific Languages for High-Throughput DNA Sequencing,” is funded under the NSF Big Data Initiative.

The National Institutes of Health-supported initiative announced $15 million in “fundamental research” on Oct. 3, with the aim of developing new ways of using large data sets to drive progress in the fields of science and engineering.

“By advancing the techniques and technologies for data management and knowledge extraction, these new research awards help to realize the enormous opportunity to capitalize on the transformative potential of data,” said Farnam Jahanian, assistant director for NSF’s Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering.

Olukotun’s project is one of the first to receive this funding.

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